CAIRO, Egypt – According to the Saudi-led coalition that is fighting in Yemen, the use of two ports as military bases by Houthi forces would make them into viable military targets, according to coalition spokesman Brigadier General Turki al-Malki.
“We don’t want to target the ports… We want to reach a comprehensive political solution,” al-Malki said at a press conference, but went on to add that if the Houthis used any civilian sites, they would lose their immunity, and make the port a target.
Hussein al-Ezzi, the Houthi deputy foreign minister, stated that a United Nations intention has been making regular daily visits to the ports of Hodeidah province since the Stockholm agreement, according to the group’s Al-Masirah TV, which aired after the coalition press conference on Saturday.
The Stockholm Accord was signed in 2018 by Yemen’s warring parties, with the goal of keeping the ports open.
The Saudi-led coalition, which intervened in early 2015 in Yemen after the movement overthrew the globally recognised government from the capital Sanaa, controls air and sea access to Houthi-held territories.
Forces of Houthi captured a UAE-flagged cargo ship on Sunday, claiming it was involved in “hostile acts,” while the military alliance commanded by Riyadh claimed hospital equipment was being carried in it, as part of a bid to regain control over the country’s imports.
Import restrictions on fuel and other commodities into Yemen, where about 16 million people lack reliable access to food and millions are on the verge of famine, have been a bone of contention in the battle. Before any peace agreement, the Houthis have asked that the air and maritime blockade be eased.
The US State Department criticised the seizure of Houthis’ ship and called for its release on Tuesday, stressing that all parties involved should de-escalate and resume inclusive political discussions.
On Wednesday, the Houthis claimed that the coalition had diverted a fifth fuel vessel bound for Hodeidah to a Saudi port.